Anything Special on Your World MS Day?

I always love the day when I can bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis, and today is no exception. My gym had a day yesterday that allowed people in the community to come and hear what they have to offer and also to experience several different abbreviated classes to see if it would interest them to participate.

I have been a member of my gym going on 3 years, which I can say without a doubt, that the rewards from going far outweigh the negatives. One of my aquatic instructors asked me to speak to this group of people before going to my class, and was happy to do this. My story is amazing from what the water has done to help improve my MS. This is the story I shared. When I first started going, I had been out of a wheelchair for a couple of years due to an experimental medication that I had been taking. Walking had been my only type of exercise before joining, but the weather always played a large role on the outcome. Rain, cold, or heat would prevent me from being consistent with walking outdoors.

When starting exercising in the water, my upper body strength was very weak and still had balance issues. Over the months though, I was able to build up total body strength and regain all the balance I had lost through participation of many different classes offered. I kept working with weights on my ankles and with hand weights in the water; with the resistance in the water, it didn’t take long to gain this strength. Over the months and years, my physician was extremely pleased with my overall strength improvement and the ability to stand on one leg without wavering. Then he got excited when I was able to walk heel toe for an exam which I had never been able to accomplish.

My story I shared didn’t stop there, but to put the icing on the cake as they say, I met a goal which I had set for myself on my first day of joining. This past year, in November, I was able to climb the Rock Wall at my gym which was exciting for me! This happened just 2 weeks after going through a 2 month relapse. During that relapse, as bad as I felt along with all the symptoms that I was going through, I remained vigilant about attending my scheduled aquatic classes. During these two months, performing at the level which I was accustomed didn’t happen; but because of remaining active with a form of exercise, I didn’t really lose any muscle strength.

Being able to share this experience with others makes me proud of what I did accomplish. I have been told that it inspires them to try to give all they have as well to an exercise program. In just 15 minutes, 80 people who knew nothing about MS just learned a little about it. There are days when I get discouraged especially when going through a relapse, but then there always seems to be someone who has witnessed my improvement in class that reminds me of all my accomplishments. When a person comes up to me at the gym and says, “Hey, are you the person with MS that climb the wall?” When I respond yes, they begin to tell me about someone they know who has been diagnosed. Usually the conversation leads into the subject that they aren’t doing very well and what advice could I give to them. My answer is always the same, take your prescribed medication as indicated and then add some form of exercise in their life, even if it is nothing more than getting in the water and just floating. Anything is better than just sitting in a chair!

MS Blogger and Multiple Sclerosis Activist shares her journey living with MS, tips for others living MS and her husband, Steve, offers his insight as a caregiver for MS.